Thunder, Lightning and a Nasty Virus

It’s April, and if you are angler, you need to be out fishing, no matter whether your quarry is bass, crappie, catfish, speckled trout, redfish … etc. It’s just good time to go fishing, renew the spirits, especially in light of the trouble we’re having with COVID-19.

But in April it’s a good bet we are going to be having good chances for stormy weather also.

I remember a couple of trips I had made to Lake Thunderbird in Oklahoma. On one spring trip had launched my boat from a ramp on the south side of lake, and motored out to the main lake body. Black clouds were quickly beginning to move in. I figured if I kept a watch on the advancing storm I could get a few more casts in, but it became bad real fast. Sheets of drenching rain came down with frequent lightning and ear splitting thunder. Should I sit still and ride it out? No way. I started up the engine and made a run for the launch ramp.

I have to admit to being scared in this situation, kind felt like one of those ducks slowly moving across the backdrop in carnival shooting gallery. Was I going to take a hit? I raced up to the shoreline by the parking lot, beached the boat, and ran up to my truck. After it was all over, my boat was half full of water; it took a long time for the bilge pump to drain the water.

On another Thunderbird trip I was fishing for crappie from a pier. There was a metal light pole at the end of the pier. Thunder and lightning could be seen and heard, but it was ways off yet. The light pole began to emit a low hum for no reason. Time to clear off the pier; the conditions were creating a lightning rod next to where was fishing.

On one of the BASSMASTER Classics that I attended, this time on the James River in Virginia, I got a chance to go out with one of the pros as a press observer. The day didn’t start very well with rain hitting us in the face as our boat number was called and we raced down the River. There was no forecast for stormy weather, just lots of rain. But as luck would have it about 15 miles down the river a storm hit. Again with lightning and rolling thunder, the pro I was with told me to get down on the floor in the middle of the boat. When one of those guys tells you to do that, you know it’s bad.

In all of these situations the good Lord was looking out for me and nothing happened. In 2004 BASS pro, David Fritts wasn’t so lucky. He related what happened to him in the January/February copy of Bassmater Magazine. He was fishing on the Ohio River.

“As I made my way back to the launch site, a really bad lightning storm came up. I got down in the middle of my Ranger.” A split second later I heard a loud pop and felt heat running up my spine.” He fell to the floor of the boat unconscious. He had barely missed a direct hit from the lightning. He estimates he was out for about five minutes. When he revived part of his motor was in the boat and his face was bleeding. “My rod box was upside down; when I fell I cut my face on the latch

The electronics were fried, the engine wouldn’t fire. “Everything was broken.”

Dazed and confused, he was able to revive the trolling motor enough to make it back to the dock. About three weeks later he developed eyesight problems. Everything was in triplicate. An optometrist fitted him with a special pair of classes. The glasses solved the problem, but he still wears glasses.

All of this to say, use common sense when out on the water and storms are approaching. Get off the water, seek safety. Fritts says he now seeks out docks that he can get under, or beach the boat and get inside a marina bait/convenience store. Be wise, stop fishing so you can fish another day. The fish will be waiting for you.

Photo courtesy of Wide Open Spaces


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Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 95

Wednesday Night

Thunderstorms Likely

Lo: 72


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Hi: 86

Thursday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 73


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Hi: 90

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Fishing Report from TPWD (Jul. 17)

GOOD. Water stained; 85 degrees; 0.13 feet below pool. White bass are good on levees and ridges in 16-27 feet of water. There has been some early morning schooling on flats and later morning deep water schooling. In deep water, throw your slab out, let it sink then reel 10 turns and let it drop back to the bottom. Crappie are good and relate to brush 24-35 feet deep minnows working best. Reports of crappie suspended on bridge piles suspended. Catfish are fair around the north end of the lake around timber using cut shad working best in 10-15 feet water. Report by John Varner, John Varner's Guide Service.

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